You can learn how to fix common computer problems without having to send your computer into a repair workshop. Computer repair workshops are great for the more complicated faults but you can save money by being able to fix it yourself.

Common computer problems

Here is a list of common computer problems and a guide to how you fix them yourself.

Computer not starting

If your computer is not starting at all, there are no sounds and the screen is blank then you may have a faulty power supply unit (PSU). There are ways in which you can test a power supply but let's check the basics first.

Check that the computer is plugged in at the wall and switched on, then check that the power lead is plugged into the PSU and, if it has one, switched on. You might think it obvious but it does happen.

If everything is plugged in properly and the computer still doesn't start, examine the start button on the front of the computer case. 

When you press the button, does it have a slight 'click' feeling like it has in the past?. The button on the front of the computer usually pushes on a small start switch that is mounted directly onto the computer chassis and it's possible that it's not making contact. If possible, remove the bezel on the front of the computer until you can get access to the proper switch. 

You may need to remove one or both of the side covers on the computer to be able to remove the bezel, in most cases that are plastic spring-clips holding the bezel onto the front of the computer.

Whilst the bezel is off of the computer you might also want to check that the two wires that connect from the switch to the motherboard are still attached

If your computer still doesn't start then it's time to test your power supply unit.

Laptop not starting

If your laptop fails to start, you should also check that it's plugged in properly into both the mains power supply and the laptop. 

There are also ways to test a laptop power supply without having to send it to a computer repair workshop. Repairing a laptop is more difficult and access to the inner workings is far harder without the right tools and experience.

Computer starting but turning off or cutting out straight away

There are several reasons why a computer may start but turn off straight away, one of them is simple to fix but the other is harder. 

If you find that your computer starts up but turns off after about 5 seconds then here is what maybe happening. The start button a computer not only turns it on but ( if all elses fails) can be used to turn it off. 

Turning off a computer in this way is not advisable but occasionally necessary if it won't do a normal software shutdown.  To turn a computer off in this was requires the start button to be held in for around 5 seconds. If your computer start button happens to be jamming in the 'in' position then you  can see that that is why it shuts down after around 5 seconds.

Another reason for a computer starting up but turning off again straight away is that it is overheating. In a standard desktop computer there is a finned (usually) heatsink that sits on top of the central processor unit (CPU) which is attached to the motherboard. Between the CPU and the heatsink there is also a thin layer of thermal paste or compound which improves the heat transfer from the CPU the the heatsink to improve cooling.

On top of this heatsink is a small fan that blows air down on the the heatsink to keep the CPU from overheating and shutting down. This fan is constantly drawing air in from outside of the computer case and all of the dust that maybe in the atmosphere. In some cases, and over a long period of time, the fins on the heatsink get clogged with dust and fluff forcing to fan to work harder for longer. Eventually, so much dust and fluff builds up that the heatsink can no longer cool the CPU and the computer shuts down. Given time to cool, the computer may well start up again but will soon shut down again. To fix this problem with a computer you need to clean the heatsink and fan

With a laptop the fluff and dust can cause even more of a problem so I've written a fairly short guide entitled How to stop your laptop overheating

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